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The story of the 54 day Miraculous Rosary Novena and miracles through The Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii

On 13 October 1875, 42 yrs to the date before the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Apostle of the Rosary, Bartolo Maria Longo was walking in Pompeii and inspired by the Holy Spirit to find a painting of Our Lady to start a Rosary Confraternity. 

He was gifted with a miraculous painting of Our Lady and the Infant Jesus in the presence of St Dominic and St Rose. The painting was given to him by Mother Concetta of the Dominican Convent in Naples and was previously bought by a priest in a junk shop! With the approval of his Bishop, St Rose was instead venerated as St Catherine of Siena as she was Italian and it was felt would draw more interest in a confraternity! 


The painting arrived on 13 November 1875 to Pompeii wrapped in a sheet on top of a manure cart and after some work to it was placed in the shrine on 13 Feb 1876. Many miraculous healings followed, three in the first month alone, one of whom was a priest who was dying and had gangrene and after the painting was brought to him, miraculously healed and he offered mass the next morning. Many more miracles followed and soon thousands flocked to Pompeii to pray the Rosary in front of the painting. 

In July 1879, a month before the Knock Apparition, Bartolo Longo became very ill with typhoid. He wrote a heartfelt prayer to Our Lady of Pompeii and again when the painting was brought to his room, and he prayed in front of it, he was immediately healed. It is thought that he was healed in August 1879. 

On 3rd March 1884, Our Lady appeared to a young girl Fortunatina Agrelli in Naples who was very ill. Eminent physicians said nothing more could be done for her. The child and her family had been praying to Our Lady Queen of the Rosary. 


Our Lady appeared to Fortunatina with St Dominic and St Catherine and told her the reason she appeared to her was because she had invoked her with the title most pleasing to her, Queen of the Holy Rosary. Our Lady told her to obtain the graces she needed to, pray 3 novenas of petition (Bartolo Longo prayer) and at the same time pray three novenas of fifteen decades of the Rosary in petition and immediately after pray three novenas of the Rosary in thanksgiving. 

Fortunatina and her family did as Our Lady asked and on the last day of the novena she was miraculously healed. Our Lady asked for six novenas each of 9 days, and so it became known to the world as the 54 day miraculous rosary novena. It is considered the most powerful of the novenas. 

In 1887, Pope Leo XIII approved the novena of petition written by Bartolo Longo which was translated into 22 different languages. The shrine have received many reports of miracles attributed to this prayer and continue to do so. Pope Leo XIII was deeply impressed by the many miracles of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii and he wrote 13 encyclicals on the Rosary. He was particularly concerned about the attack on family and marriage and he is the Pope who started the October rosary devotions, praying the Litany at the end of he Rosary. He is also the Pope who gave us the St Michael prayer and Ad Beate Joseph and consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart. 


In 1901, Pope Leo XIII made the shrine of Pompeii a Papal Basilica. Of the painting he said “God has made use of this painting to grant those favours which have moved the whole world” and he made the shrine a parish of the world. 

On 21 October 1979, Pope St John Paul visited Pompeii and thanked the Virgin of the Rosary for the success of his apostolic visit to Ireland and the US which he had placed under her protection. He also placed all the families of the world under the patronage of Our Lady of Pompeii. 

On 16 Oct 2002, Pope St John Paul wrote his encyclical on the Rosary. He commissioned the miraculous painting from Pompeii to St Peter’s Basilica for that day. Thousands lined the streets to welcome the famous image of the Queen of the Holy Rosary to Rome. Previously in 1965, Pope Paul VI also venerated the painting in Rome. In 2003, Pope St John Paul went to Pompeii to close the year of the Rosary. He also prayed another prayer publically in front of the painting by Bartolo Longo - The Supplication, this prayer is prayed every year on Rosary Sunday in Pompeii and Pope St John Paul concluded his encyclical on the Rosary with part of it. 


In this encyclical in which he also and importantly gave the world the Luminous Mysteries, Pope St John Paul says, while it is indeed laudable to pray the Rosary in full, for people who are busy 5 decades are acceptable in keeping with the rhythm of the Church. Mon - Joyful, Tues - Sorrowful, Wed - Glorious, Thur - Luminous etc. 


He also advises that before each decade to reflect on a line of scripture relevant to the decade to help us meditate and contemplate the mysteries. St Louis de Montfort advises to pause after each decade announced, to allow meditation and to ask for graces from each decade. He recommends adults should pray 15 decades spread throughout the day (and children 5 decades). 

Padre Pio also has a link the shrine of Pompeii. He first visited the shrine in 1901 and it made a deep impression on him. Bartolo Longo would later write to Padre Pio for guidance. Three days before he died, St Pio sent a red rose to Our Lady of Pompeii which remains in the shrine to this day. He often recommended to people in need of miracles to pray a novena to the Virgin of Pompeii. Padre Pio prayed many rosaries each day. 


Many rosary crusades around the world pray the 54 day rosary novena. The shrine in Pompeii insist that Our Lady asked for the novena prayer of Pompeii written by Bartolo Longo along with the first three novenas for the miracle! And they also recommend 20 decades of the Rosary daily for the novena including the Luminous Mysteries, as the battle is more intense now than in 1884 and to overcome the darkness in these days. 


Pope St John Paul beatified Bartolo Longo on 26 October 1980 Blessed Bartolo Longo, apostle of the Rosary pray for us, pray for Ireland. 


Across the four provinces of Ireland today, on the 140 anniversary of the Knock apparition many people will start to pray the 54 Day Rosary Novena for Northern Ireland to stop the diabolical onslaught from Westminster to bring in abortion to and same sex marriage to the counties. The novena will continue until 13 October the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun in Fatima. A miracle for Ireland, what a witness to the world it would be! 


St Dominic said that every Rosary we pray is a crown for Jesus and Mary and every Our Father is like a red rose and every Hail Mary like a white rose. Let us pray for a thousands of spiritual roses from every Diocese. That every parish and prayer group and families will take it on.


Whichever way you choose to pray the novena, what is important is prayer of the Rosary from the heart. Pray what you can well. 

Remember that when we pray the Rosary in a group we can each request a plenary indulgence for a Holy Soul; usual conditions apply. 


It is poignant to visit Pompeii and pray in the beautiful Basilica of The Virgin of Rosary. The Basilica is in the shadow of Vesuvius just 500 meters away from the ruins of Pompeii. Strangely most catholic pilgrimage groups that go there visit the Pompeii ruins and by-pass the papal Basilica! Pompeii as you know was destroyed in 24 Oct 79 AD for paganism. A reminder that when we are praying for a miracle for Ireland to pray also in reparation to God for the substitution of His Ten Commandments by modern paganism. 


Let us remember the promise in Revelation - “They will make war on the Lamb and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful”. Rev 17:14


Interestingly under the high altar in the Basilica of Pompeii there is a mosaic of The Lamb of God. 

Here is a copy of Bl. Bartolo Longo’s novena prayer if you wish to include it in your daily prayers over these next 54 days. 


God bless 🌹

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